by Xianbai Ji (Associate Fellow, EU Centre in Singapore)
and Yeo Lay Hwee (Director, EU Centre in Singapore)
The views expressed in this commentary are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the views of the European Union or the EU Centre in Singapore.
A printable version of the commentary is available HERE.
In her first public lecture in Singapore, the EU’s foreign policy chief, Federica Mogherini asserted that the EU is a steadfast “global actor”. Yet, she did not mention any grand EU strategy in the Asia/Indo-Pacific region, in response to America’s Free and Open Indo-Pacific strategy, the Chinese Belt and Road initiative and Japan-India Asia-Africa Growth Corridor. To assert its “global actorness”, we argue that the EU should pursue a three-pronged global trade diplomacy to lead the reform of the WTO, forge high standard FTAs with partners around the world, and increase public acceptance of free trade at home. In particular, we suggest that the EU should take the initiative to push for an “ASEM Open and Free Trade Agreement” to live up to their support of the open, rules-based multilateral trading regime.